A strong safety culture is the result of a company’s values, beliefs and practices all aligning to support a safe working environment. When your organization has a strong safety culture, employees trust one another and everyone knows exactly what is expected of them. People are willing to speak up if they see something that could put themselves or their coworkers in danger. Everyone understands the risks of their job and the steps to take in an emergency situation. But what does that look like? How do you know if your company has a weak or strong safety culture?
If you’re ready to take your company from good to great when it comes to safety, read on for some helpful tips. A strong safety culture will not happen overnight, but with these tips, you can begin moving in that direction.
Hold regular safety meetings
If you want to see positive results, you have to make safety a priority. In order to do this, you need to set a regular time for your team to come together to talk about safety. Ideally, you would meet on a monthly basis so that safety is top of mind. During these meetings, you can go over safety metrics, perform safety audits and discuss ways your team can make safety a priority. If you have managers or employees who are not comfortable talking about safety, you can invite guest speakers to come in and talk about their job and some of the risks they face day-in and day-out. It’s important to have these meetings in person whenever possible. When you gather your team together, you can see who is paying attention, who is interested and who might need some extra help. This can go a long way towards building a strong safety culture.
Communicate your company’s values
As a leader, if you want to create a strong safety culture, you first have to communicate your company’s values. Values are the things that bring everyone together as a team. For example, if your organization has a value of innovation, you want employees to be creative when coming up with solutions or finding new ways of doing things. However, you also want them to be safe. So the two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive. You just have to make sure everyone knows that so they don’t feel like they have to choose between one or the other. Once you’ve communicated your company’s values, you need to hold your team accountable. If an employee isn’t living up to the values, you have to have an honest conversation with them about where they are falling short. It’s important to do this in a constructive way. If you have someone on your team who frequently puts themselves or others at risk, you have to have the conversation.
Encourage employees to speak up when they see a problem
As a manager, you want your employees to feel like they can speak up if they see a problem. If an employee notices someone is slacking off, taking too many breaks or doing something that puts them or their coworkers in danger, they should feel comfortable bringing it up to their manager. If that manager is unwilling or unable to do anything about it, the employee should feel free to go up the chain of command until they get the help they need. Ideally, you want your employees to feel like they can bring up any problem, large or small, without fear of retaliation. You want everyone to feel safe enough to be open and honest.
Provide training so everyone understands the risks of their job and the steps to take in an emergency situation
If you want your team to take on the risks of their job, you have to have them understand the risks of their job. If your employees don’t know what’s expected of them in an emergency situation, they’re much more likely to make a mistake that could have dire consequences. You want your team to understand the steps to take in case of a fire, a flood or another type of emergency situation. You also want your team to know where the exits are in all parts of the building and have a general knowledge of the hazards they face while performing their job duties. Ideally, you would make safety training mandatory for all employees. If your company doesn’t have the resources or budget to do this, you can encourage your team members to take safety training on their own. This should be voluntary, not mandatory because it’s important employees feel like this isn’t a requirement.
Building a strong safety culture isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a process that requires your team to come together, set goals and be open to feedback. The best way to ensure your team has this type of culture is to hold regular safety meetings, communicate your company’s values and encourage employees to speak up when they see a problem. You should also provide safety training so everyone understands the risks of their job and the steps to take in an emergency situation. A strong safety culture isn’t something you can just tack on at the end of the day. It’s something that needs to be integrated into the DNA of your organization from the very beginning.
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